Coming off a season full of injuries to key players through out the season the Houston Texans are looking to build on what they were still able to accomplish even without the franchises all time leading passing yards leader, receiving yards leader, and all time rushing leader. Also take into account the fact we lost 1 game with new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips sidelined after surgery to a Panthers team, at home. A team the Texans are more than capable of beating. In the following week , also without Phillips on the sideline the Texans lost to the Indianapolis Colts. And to finish off the regular season coach Gary Kubiak rested starters knowing there was no ground to gain in the playoffs and figured why chance it. In that game the second team basically took it to the wire, going for 2 to win the game instead of taking it to overtime at home against a Titans team that was fighting for a playoff spot themselves. Now do not take this wrong I’m not saying by any means that they had a bad year. I am saying that it was a year that could have been substantially better without those key injuries during the season. This year the Texans as a team have 1 goal. A Super Bowl title. It’s not quite there’s to take but they’re close. Here is what 2nd year DE JJ Watt had to say of the team’s Super Bowl expectations: “It’s exciting, but nobody has bigger expectations than we do in our own locker room. All the outside attention is nice. All the media attention is nice. But at the end of the day, we’re working our tails off to be the best team we possibly can be.”
Offensively the Texans went out and improved in the 2 area’s I felt they were lacking in last year. After the loss of FB Vonta Leach to the Baltimore Ravens through free agency they signed veteran Lawrence Vickers. Vickers was okay best last season, but he has hands of stone and missed crucial blocks that Leach would normally make. They now have former TE James Casey starting at FB, Casey who’s been really good through the preseason was once the 3rd TE on the teams depth chart behind Owen Daniels and former Texans Joel Dressen. Now playing FB Casey should thrive in the role. He can block, and most of all he’s a threat coming out of the backfield to catch passes. That’s something the Texans have never had at the FB spot. Having him there should help QB Matt Schaub on check downs as well as quick blitz reads. To sure up the position and have someone who can flat out hit the hole and clear the way for the Foster and Tate in Houston they went out and traded for former Bears FB Tyler Clutts. At 6’2 260lbs it’s hard to see someone stopping him coming through a hole. The other week spot was an obvious need this season, the WR spot. Sure we have one of the games best in Andre Johnson but after he was hurt last year it just seemed the passing game stopped. Luckily the running game was good enough to carry them, but this year should be different. The Texans drafted WR’s Keshawn Martin and Devier Posey this year. Martin was drafted I believe to be a immediate replacement to Jacoby Jones who is now in Baltimore. Martin will be the teams 3rd WR in most cases splitting time with a player I thought would be great last season until he got hurt in Lestar Jean. Both had great preseasons, and while on the field with starting unit Jean looked outstanding. Jean’s already been earning the praise of many of his teammates for his ability and hard work on the field. RB Arian Foster had this to say about the 2nd year WR: “He’s going to be one to watch. He’s going to be a star in this league.” I am expecting Jean to come up big for the Texans when it really counts. He can run great routes and get open so when Johnson is seeing double teams or teams decide to sit back in zone Jean should be able to get open and help move the chains for the team this year. Though the Texans did lose both starters off the right side of the line during free agency they are still in really good shape on paper. To start the preseason 2nd year player Derek Newton and Rashad Butler were battling for the starter spot. During the last game of the preseason Butler was hurt for the year. Not that big of a deal considering Newton started the game and therefore won the starters position. But with that injury the depth of the line was short so the team went out and got veteran RT Ryan Harris from Denver to make sure they had depth at every spot. Harris is familiar with Kubiak’s system from his previous years in Denver before the John Fox/John Elway regime took over. RG Mike Breisel left for Oakland along with Gregg Knapp. His replacement is a player that played behind him last year in Antione Caldwell. Caldwell knows the offense very well and looked comfortable all preseason playing with the starters.
Defensively I’m not sure the Texans can get much better. They did trade a defensive captain and leader when they decided to let Demeco Ryans got to the Eagles for a higher pick in the draft. But everyone on the staff and on the field agree that veteran ILB Bradie James is more than capable of doing the job this year. The only other major loss was CB Jason Allen to Cincinnati, with him out it opened up the door for the former 1st round pick Kareem Jackson. Jackson has looked good through the preseason, but last year he was targeted a ot with the tenacious Jonathan Joseph on the other side of the field. Jackson will have to do better at the line of scrimmage getting his hands on guys legally. Perfect example was the last game against Indy, to score the winning TD Reggie Wayne ran a simple fade route and was successful do to the Jackson not really knowing what was coming. Hopefully with another year and a whole off season to prepare he can produce with the capability the team saw in him drafting him in the 1st. The rest of the secondary looks sharp, with Daniel Manning and Glover Quinn at the safeties. The front seven for Houston are all big quick and great at getting after QB’s. Losing the former #1 pick and former OLB Mario Williams to the Bills won’t effect this unit at all. After losing Mario to a pectoral pull early in the year the team actually rallied around players like Brian Cushing and Conner Barwin. Barwin stepped in and picked up the slack with 11.5 sacks, while Mario’s replacement rookie OLB Brooks Reed picked up 6 more during his time starting. DE JJ Watt will look to build on an incredible rookie campaign, that left defensive coordinator Wade Phillips saying that he reminded him of a young Howie Long. To start the season Watt may be a bit rusty after not playing all preseason due to a dislocated elbow during practice. But Watt can be a guy that commands a constant double teams on the line which will open up gaps for either blitzing LB’s. With all these pieces in place and playing the Texans should have a defense that’s a top the leaders once again this season.
The Super Bowl is the goal for this Texans team this season. I think that if both sides of the ball can stay healthy all year that this team will be very hard to beat. If they do happen to secure one of the top spots in the AFC believe me it’ll be to their advantage. If teams have to go to Reliant to make it to the Super Bowl, it’ll be a tough hill to climb. Last year every home game seemed like it had playoff atmosphere thanks to the loudness. In my opinion if the Texans play well enough all season to secure home field throughout the playoffs, the sky’s the limit for this team.